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December 4, 2001

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After last night's attempted robbery, our group is anxious to spend our money before it's taken. We go to the markets of Kumasi, capital of the Asante. The Asante are famous for Kente cloth, gold, and a stool. Probably the best-known and most expensive West African fabric is the colorful Kente cloth, an African ceremonial cloth that's hand woven on a loom. Kente weavers sew small strips, covered by intricate designs, into larger pieces of cloth. The cloths are worn in a toga fashion during very important social and religious occasions. The intricate symbols on the cloth represent history, philosophy, ethics, religious beliefs, political thought and even aesthetic principles. The meaning of these symbols can be specific and complex, such as the symbol for: "I know you are jealous of seeing us live together." The Asante are interested in keeping up appearances. Besides wearing the beautiful kente cloth, they mine gold and wear jewelry. Gold has played a major role in African history. Gold attracted European interest and interaction between Europeans and Africans involving gold eventually resulted in the slave trade. Where does the stool fit in? The Asante chief sat on a solid gold stool, his symbol of authority. This stool became the symbol of the Asante nation, a powerful force in the 1700-1800's. Today the Asante are still Ghana's most prominent tribal group.
Kumasi skyline.
This is a bowl of fufu, a famous local dish. The fufu is a tasteless glob of millet doused in a spicy sauce. The fun is not in the taste, but getting your fingers goopy as you eat it.
Dragoman budget tours.